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Zarqawi's death great loss: Tape

However, the tape clarified that the Al-Qaeda frontman's death will strengthen the militants' determination.

india Updated: Jun 17, 2006 17:16 IST

The head of an umbrella group for Iraqi insurgents says the US killing of the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq was a "great loss," but one that will strengthen the militants' determination, according to an audio tape broadcast by Al-Jazeera on Friday.

The pan-Arab satellite channel said the tape bears the voice of Abu Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, the head of the Mujahedeen Shura Council, which groups five Iraqi insurgent organizations including al-Qaida in Iraq.

The tape is an attempt to rally support for the insurgents after last week's killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the notorious leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. But significantly the speaker does not mention the man that Al-Qaeda in Iraq has chosen to replace al-Zarqawi, Abu Hamza al-Muhajer.

The conspicuous absence of any pledge of allegiance to al-Mujaher suggests al-Baghdadi does not support him.

"This is a message to the enemies of God, the crusaders, the rejectionists and the renegades," the voice says, referring respectively the US-led forces, the Shiites, and the Sunnis in the Iraqi government.

"The martyrdom of the leader will not change the arena of confrontation. Rather, it will become fiercer and stronger," the speaker says, referring to the death of al-Zarqawi, who was killed when fighter-bombers blasted the house north of Baghdad where he was meeting his advisers on June 7.

"This leader (al-Zarqawi) has laid the foundations and his great loss will not lead to weakness. He will remain a symbol for all the mujahideen, who will take strength from his steadfastness," the speaker says.